Paralympic/Olympic Attitude


Posted by Coach Chris Palmquist


Over my three decades of coaching and competing in endurance sports, I’ve tried to learn from everyone along the journey. In my experience, nothing determines success more than having a certain “attitude.”  All the natural ability in the world will not breed success if not accompanied by undaunted belief, consistency and determination.  I’ve observed world class athletes with this mindset but I’ve definitely seen just as many citizen racers working their way to success because of the same mental skills.  I’ve compiled a list of things that these athletes have in common.


Things I’ve learned from coaching Olympians and the age groupers who act just like them:




Great athletes trust the training process, believe in their potential and love the challenge of pursuing their goals.  If you don’t really believe you can ever “run faster,” or “swim 2.4 miles,” or “hold xxx watts on the bike,” then you won’t trust the process or get the training done to change your ability.

In fact, we almost always prove ourselves to be right.  So let’s proclaim (even if to ourselves), “I can do this.” Repeat daily.  Fake the belief until you really do start believing.  Act as if you believe and you will accomplish your goals.

Find your Olympic Training Center 


My friend Bill has raced for decades as an elite cross country skier. Without regular snowfall or groomed ski trails, it can be tough to prepare for cross country ski racing while living in Illinois. Bill has skied hundreds of laps around a park near his house on snow-covered ball fields and one small frozen pond - all in the dark after work. Most skiers would find this frustrating, but not Bill.  He renamed the park his “Olympic Training Center” and made the most of what he could do there.

It is too easy to make the excuse, “I don’t have a (insert one of the following:  safe, interesting, new, smooth, cool, warm, perfect) enough place to train today.”  Not true. Outstanding athletes, both elite and age group, are practicing bike handling skills in parking lots, swimming in crowded swimming pools and running through frigid winters or oppressively hot/humid summers.  Quit looking for perfection and find something that will make do.  Then, call it your “Olympic Training Center” to make it more tolerable.  That is ATTITUDE.  If you come to Illinois, I’ll show you all of my personal OTC’s – they range from patches of grass and quiet neighborhood streets to weekend industrial park roads and empty soccer fields.

Schedule and Keep Training Appointments


Successful athletes, make and keep their appointments for training sessions.  If they plan to bike tomorrow, they put it in their schedule for a certain time and keep that schedule.  They don’t procrastinate or delay for the weather.  At our last Elite Paratriathlon High Performance Camp, we hit every training session on time.  That meant time trialing in a steady, soaking rain, open water swimming in dense fog and running in the heat of the day.  Getting the training done in all kinds of conditions prepares the athlete to race in all kinds of conditions. 

Consistency over Perfection


Great athletes aim for consistent training rather than great training.  They don’t obsess over perfection.  Instead, they keep doing the work, day after day, realizing that some days will be good and some will be poor.  They don’t save themselves for the next workout, instead, they give each workout their best.  A bad workout doesn’t define them and never ruins their day.  Tomorrow is another opportunity.

Be undaunted. Schedule your training and get it done.  Don’t expect perfection – both your training and your training location can be less than perfect. What counts is the accumulation of getting it done, day after day after day. With less analyzing and more “attitude,” you can meet your own potential


~ Coach Chris

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